Even as Erica Broussard went to Minneapolis to accept Anytime Fitness’ Corporate award, she kept thinking she didn’t deserve it.
“It was a little weird for me,” Broussard said. “I still don’t believe I deserved it, but it was an awesome award I received. This year, there were four winners, but two of them had lost hundreds of pounds and here I was with my 30 pounds lost.”
Anyone who knew this Destrehan resident’s story knew there was no doubt about how much she deserved the award, especially since she was trained by a previous winner of the same national award.
By the time Broussard met Daniell Nielsen Jenkins at Anytime Fitness in Destrehan, their paths had been fraught with challenges matched by their own determination to take them on.
In April of 2015, Broussard was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. When she went to a New Orleans hospital to have an abdominal mass removed, doctors announced her condition was much worse than expected and told her “to get her affairs in order, to pray and to get a good doctor.”
Other hospitals would not take her case so she went to MD Anderson in Houston.
“They were awesome,” Broussard said.
It’s where she finally got answers and scheduled surgery, but it meant needing a 12-inch long surgical wound that required a full hysterectomy, removal of seven inches of her colon and her abdominal wall scraped. The procedure was followed by six rounds of chemotherapy, but by November of 2015 she got the much hoped for “all clear.”
Four months later, her son was diagnosed with autism, which meant giving up nursing to become at stay-at-home mom.
During this hard time, Destrehan organized help for Broussard, which included a Zumbathon fundraiser to help her with medical bills and a free lifetime membership to Anytime Fitness. She vowed, if she survived her fight with cancer, that she’d join the gym.
That day came in July of 2017 and that’s when she met Jenkins, who was also a winner.[pullquote]“It’s been a huge blessing training with Daniell, which changed my life around.” — Erica Broussard[/pullquote]
Jenkins had lost her husband, Brandon Nielson, a St. John deputy killed in the line of duty in LaPlace, in 2012. She pulled her life together after the loss, also joined the gym where she stepped up to become a trainer. She won Anytime Fitness’ national award six years ago.
“It’s been a huge blessing training with Daniell, which changed my life around,” Broussard said. “I was actually able to get off one of my medications and lost 30 pounds. Right now, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been – even before cancer.”
Broussard said this achievement puts everything in perspective for her.
“It definitely makes you appreciate every day,” she said.
And her day remains challenging since she’s on the road at least three hours a day bringing her son to therapy and making sure there’s still time for the gym, but Broussard insisted she is going to be there for life. She stays focused on her family rather than her career, with her biggest job being a mom.
“It will make four years in remission on Nov. 16 and I actually go to my next appointment at MD Anderson on Oct. 25,” she said. “With this type of cancer I have the reoccurrence rate is really high, so right now I’m good.”
- May of 2015: Broussard is diagnosed with ovarian cancer and goes to MD Anderson Cancer Center for surgery and treatment.
- November of 2015: Her cancer is in remission.
- July of 2017: Broussard meets Daniell Nielsen Jenkins at Anytime Fitness in Destrehan. Jenkins becomes her personal trainer.
- September of 2019: Broussard receives Anytime Fitness’ corporate award, among only four people in the U.S. to receive it this year.